National Gold Medal Award

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The National Gold Medal Awards are governed and managed by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association, and proudly sponsored by Musco Lighting.

Watch the October 27 Virtual Presentation of the 2020 National Gold Medal Award Program Finalist and Grand Plaque recipients.

Gold Medal Award Resources

ABOUT - National Gold Medal Award Program

The National Gold Medal Award honors public park and recreation agencies and state park systems throughout the United States and armed forces recreation programs worldwide that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices.

"The Gold Medal provides independent validation that we are serving our community at the highest and most innovative levels in our field. It is source of pride for our employees, appointed park board, elected officials, and community." Michael Klitzing, Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation, Indiana 2020 Grand Plaque Recipient

The National Gold Medal Award Program is governed and administered by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The National Gold Medal Award Program is sponsored by Musco Lighting, LLC.

The 2021 Gold Medal Award Program application deadline is March 26th.

Each completed application is independently judged by a panel of five (5) park and recreation professionals selected by AAPRA based upon their management experience, size and type of agency, geographic location, and diversity. From the pool of applications, the judges select four (4) agencies in each population category, armed forces, and state parks as a Finalist.

"The Gold Medal Award is a tool to encourage and recognize the leadership and quality of park and recreation professionals across the county." Heather Shuke-Nelson, Florida State Parks 2019 State Park Grand Plaque Recipient

The four (4) Finalists in each category will be announced at the end of April. The Finalist and Grand Plaque Awards will be presented either in person at the 2021 NRPA Annual Park & Recreation Conference in September, or virtually.


View 2020 virtual presentation here


Disqualification and Revocation

AAPRA reserves the right to disqualify a National Gold Medal Award application if in AAPRA’s sole discretion it determines that the application does not contain truthful information, is contrary to the standards or policies of AAPRA, or violates applicable laws, or if the agency has acted contrary to the standards or policies of AAPRA, or violated applicable law or could reflect negatively on AAPRA, the National Gold Medal Program, its partner NRPA and the national sponsor, Musco Lighting, LLC.

AAPRA reserves the right to revoke any Finalist or Grand Plaque Gold Medal award if in AAPRA’s sole discretion, it determines that the agency acted contrary to the standards or policies of AAPRA or acted in violation of applicable laws or could reflect negatively on AAPRA.


Applications for the 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management will be available the week of January 11.

If you have questions about this award or the application process, please direct them to goldmedal@aapra.org.

The National Gold Medal Awards are Proudly Sponsored by Musco Lighting.